UPS director nurtures team spirit
William Ng, managing director of UPS Hong Kong and Macau, is a leader in an industry in which efficiency and customer service are paramount. He has made it to the top by embracing challenges and opportunities throughout his career and is a strong believer in the necessity of life-long learning. Since starting out as an industrial engineer, those values have enabled him to climb the corporate ladder at UPS, a company he joined 14 years ago in Malaysia. He has worked in several locations across the Asia-Pacific region, but is a newcomer to Hong Kong and is enjoying exploring the city. Ng typifies the spirit of UPS, a global logistics giant, placing great emphasis on teamwork, effective communications, leadership development and building strong relationships. He also attaches critical importance to striking a good work-life balance and cultivating a culture of volunteerism and community service within the company.
Could you outline your career history?
Armed with an industrial engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin, I immediately joined the workforce in the manufacturing industry. This allowed me to apply my industrial engineering skills immediately and improve the manufacturing process.
After eight years, I decided I was ready to broaden my horizons and expand my areas of responsibility. I found my opportunity in UPS Malaysia in 1997, where I started as an operations and industrial engineering manager. It was a perfect fit at UPS – because of the culture and the opportunities the company offered.
Over the past 14 years at UPS, I have had countless opportunities on the mainland, Taiwan and several countries in South Asia, in operations, management and special project execution, to apply my knowledge and skills to my work.
I have continuously learned and gained new skills. Through the years, I grew with the company in Asia-Pacific, taking on larger roles and greater responsibilities. I now look after the Hong Kong and Macau operations.
What does your day-to-day work involve?
I am responsible for the strategic management of UPS day-to-day operations in Hong Kong and Macau. I oversee marketing, business development, customs brokerage, and finance and accounting. Managing the Hong Kong business requires interaction with every department to ensure that we function as a team and serve our customers better.
Service is key. As long as our customers are happy and are assured that we listen to their feedback and do what it takes to meet their needs, in my eyes, it is a good day's work.
Who inspires you professionally?
There are two heroes I look up to. One is Jim Casey, who founded UPS over 100 years ago. I am where I am today as a result of his key beliefs. He believed that as a business, UPS needed to invest in its people. This has resulted in systematic career development planning and cross-functional training for personal and career growth. We emphasise promoting from within, which has resulted in loyalty and long-term service in the company. We strongly promote a healthy work-life balance so working in UPS is like being part of a big family.
The other hero who has inspired me is basketball player and coach, John Wooden, who passed away last year.
He lived by his seven-point creed, which I try to follow in my daily life.
What are the keys to being an effective leader?
An effective leader communicates and maintains the spirit of teamwork. The UPS culture encourages that. We capitalise on working together in an informal manner. It is, therefore, important as a leader to build strong relationships with people within one's own team and those working in other functions.
A leader cannot succeed alone. Just like cogs in complex machinery, everything needs to work together for success. The leader needs to lead the team and ensure that every cog is in the right place. Relationship is the lubricant that flows right through.
What is needed to train the next generation?
Every generation looks ahead for the same thing. They want to ensure that they have a career that is fulfilling and secure. At UPS, we have put in place several development programmes to groom new employees in Hong Kong so that they can continue to enhance their skills set and take on additional responsibilities through advancement.
Buddy Programme: Veteran employees are the perfect mentors to guide and introduce the company culture and operational processes to newcomers. This programme enables a smooth transition for newcomers to learn the job effectively and efficiently.
Introductory training to UPS and all departments: We conduct a training session with representatives from all departments so all new employees may gain a better understanding of UPS, its products and its services.
On-going Career Development Talks with immediate manager: Training goes beyond the basic introduction. As the employees progress, they need feedback on how they are doing and discussions on where their career in the company is going.
What advice do you have for young people?
I encourage young people to pursue their passions and interests and to strike a balance between hobbies and career. We welcome graduates who are eager to develop a career in the logistics industry. In particular, we look for those individuals who believe in diversity, equality, innovation and contribution to local communities.
What are your company’s targets for the next few years?
With Hong Kong being a major trading port, we continue to strengthen our Hong Kong operations. We recently launched new daily flights from Hong Kong to Europe enabling us to offer the widest next-day delivery coverage for both packages and heavy freight to Europe from Hong Kong.
We also launched UPS Preferred LCL Ocean Freight service from Hong Kong to any destination in the US. It is an ocean freight service which capitalises on the strength of our US network for freight to reach its destination about 40 per cent more quickly.
Another key target for UPS Hong Kong is to raise the level of volunteerism among our employees. Last year, during our Global Volunteer Month, 380 UPS local employees and their families volunteered approximately 1,700 hours towards community involvement.